Say What About Formation Skydiving!?!?
Yup – you heard me correctly! Slow is Fast in Formation Skydiving, especially when skydiving in larger group formations. This “Big Way” skydiving has etiquette, language, and rules and familiarizing yourself with formation skydiving “lingo” will not only improve your skydiving skills in smaller groups, but will provide you with the necessary tools to participate in larger big way skills camps.
“Master Skills Camp – Big Tips For Big Ways“, by Carol Jones breaks it down for us!
Formation Skydiving Tools
When you are dirt diving, identify:
- Your Slot: where you are in the formation
- Your Quadrant: the area your slot is located.
- Your Radial: specific “imaginary” line coming from the base and running through the entire formation.
- Your Partners: who is located on either side of you, in front of you, and behind you.
- Several Reference Points: color of jumpsuits & rigs of the people in the base, opposite side of base, in front of, beside, and behind you.
- Angle of Track at Breakoff: the degree of the angle when turning to track away from larger formations will be less than 180 degrees.
When boarding the aircraft, it is your responsibility to know whom you are to line up behind:
- Last out is first on.
- First out is last on.
Dress for success:
- Be prepared for any slot.
When approaching a formation (base maintains the heading):
- Use the “Stadium” method: in a real stadium, you take a step down, then move forward; another step down, then another step forward.
- “Be In The Stadium“: maintain a 45 degree angle on the formation as you move forward to join it.
- Maintain a slow, straight line of descent: as we move forward, we lose altitude.
- Fly to and remain lined up on your radial all of the way into the formation.
You are #2 in the door (exit order) to dive out.
While the base maintains a heading, you fly directly to and in front of the base to dock.
You and the base then become one imaginary line (180 degrees) on a 360 degree circle.
When taking a grip:
- Must have zero forward momentum and your free fall speed is matching the formation.
- Focus your eyes on the center of the formation, not on your grip (known as “grip fixation“).
- Must be on level and deep in your slot making sure you are not reaching for the grip.
- Formation must be stable.
- Use positive pressure with your legs (legs extended) to ensure there is no tension in the grip.
At track off time, the goal is to:
- Create separation for a safe parachute deployment.
- Decrease your downward free fall speed and maximize your horizontal speed.
- Flat track.
- Track, track, track!
“Track flat, track hard, and don’t stop tracking until it is time for you to deploy your parachute.”
Implementing These Tools: Practice Formation Skydiving
Speedstars are a great way to learn and practice non-linked exits (diving out of the door to the base), how to fly yourself to the formation (slot & quadrant), have a better understanding of fall rates in groups (dressing for success), how to dock appropriately (taking grips on radials), and properly track away from the formation (angle of track).
Club Jump IN! Leader Neil Hutchinson organized “Speedstar Saturday” that was geared towards teaching and practicing these skydiving techniques.
Watch the video to find out what happened – you won’t believe it!!
Through practice and repetition of these tools, you will fly to and in your formation with more understanding and patience, thus causing you to move “slow.” Basically, you won’t “rush” to try to get to where you need to go, ensuring a successful skydive! “Slow is Fast“!!!